catch cold(redirected from caught them cold)
catch (one) cold
To surprise someone with something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is always used between "catch" and "cold." News that I'd gotten the promotion really caught me cold—I didn't think they were seriously considering me for it!
To become ill with the common cold. I hate going to the doctor's office—I always seem to catch cold after being around all those germs!
catch coldand take cold
Fig. to contract a cold (a common respiratory infection.) (Use with catch is more frequent.) Please close the window, or we'll all catch cold. I take cold every year at this time.
Also, catch one's death (of cold). Become infected with a cold virus, contract a bad cold, as in Jane manages to catch cold on every important business trip, or Put on your hat or you'll catch your death. The first term originally (16th century) meant becoming chilled by exposure to cold and took on its present meaning in the late 1600s. The hyperbolic variant, often shortened, is somewhat newer.
catch one's death (of cold)
see under catch cold.